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What Kind of DIYer Are You?

Know your limitations and how to talk to your local marine mechanic.

March 1, 2013

Mercury 150 FourStroke

BTG0112_MHD

As a working stiff in the marine repair business I come across quite a few do-it-yourselfers who want to handle engine and vessel repairs themselves. As one of the few technicians who actually does not mind helping out those who want to either save a few bucks or people that genuinely enjoy doing the work, I try to offer good advice or suggestions to those folks depending on their abilities. My most important tip to them is to first know their limitations and to be honest about recognizing their shortcomings. Occasionally it is advisable to do the work you can, then bring the boat in for the mechanic to do any highly technical procedures that are required.

Basically I find there are three types of DIY people. The first is the enthusiast who wants to work on his or her rig and is mechanically minded enough to understand how and to learn how things work. Another type could be or even is a mechanic but is not familiar with outboards; however he knows engine basics and perhaps has a background in automotive or other engine repair. The third is the person who has a hard time knowing which end of a screwdriver to hold on to or how to read a DMM yet wants someone to show him how to fix his motor by asking for “just a minute” of their time.

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If you know what category of DIYer that you fall in and are asking for advice from a pro, be truthful up front about your background and experience. That way the individual can tailor an answer that is appropriate for your knowledge of the situation. Very often someone asks about fixing a late-model fuel-injected engine then their eyes start to glaze over when I mention inspecting vapor separator tanks or that the motor has more than just one fuel pump plus a pressure regulator. Often they have a hard time realizing that today’s motors are not like the ones they grew up with that could be fixed with a pair of pliers and a screwdriver.

A tip for the home-mechanic is to form a good relationship with your engine dealer or technician. That way you can often get the latest news in the repair field when you stop in to either chat or to buy something. Don’t hesitant to ask a few questions but do not monopolize the person’s time or take advantage of their generosity. They are expected to put in a good day’s work and not stand around talking. Try to buy something, however small, every time you show up.

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To show your appreciation, stop by with lunch or dinner coupons, bring in a pizza around noon or donuts in the morning, or ask what their beverage of choice is. Be a person who they like seeing come through the door, not one who makes them groan. As the old saying goes, “There are two types of people who brighten up a room, one by when they enter it and the other by when they leave.” Don’t be the latter.

SUGGESTED READING:

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